For local governments, engaging the community is key to achieving climate goals, and Earth Day is one of the best opportunities to get people to take action. That’s especially true right now when the recent headlines – like USA Today’s "'It's now or never': UN climate report shows globe is on 'track toward an unlivable world'"-- are driving awareness and, ideally, action.
The next few weeks are when people will be searching online for ways to "go green." It's when you have the chance to convert someone looking for a one-time litter or river clean up into a regular participant in your climate programs.
Earth Day can be a springboard for climate action in your community.
But you can't do this if people need a PhD to understand the challenges your community faces and where you're headed. Or if they have to navigate a typical local government website to find the most effective actions. Don’t lose the Earth Day momentum!
5 Ways to Convert Earth Day Interest into Year Round Action:
1. If you’re planning an event, make sure you’ve effectively promoted it, including creating a Facebook event using the best local channels (including partner organizations and local influencers) to spread the word. No event planned? Substitute a virtual learning experience or even an online quiz that builds knowledge and inspires action. We created this quiz last year. Although something with local fun facts is best, you can find tons of more general options if you need a quick solution – just search “Earth Day Quiz” and you’ll have plenty of choices.
2. Show people what you’re doing and why it matters. Despite the dire language in the recent IPCC reports, people still have a hard time connecting the dots between the problem and their actions as part of the solution or between what’s happening locally and on a global scale. We work with clients to turn data into compelling stories, to talk about the current and projected impacts in non-technical terms (people in the Northeast, for example, don’t like to hear that their summers are going to feel more like South Carolina), and to plug people into meaningful actions. Our Climate Conversation Guide can help with make the connections.
3. Give people a variety of action items that they can customize based on their interests and availability. Not everyone can snap their fingers and purchase an EV or start taking public transportation. Solar doesn't work for every roof. Everyone will have different entry points, comfort levels, and realistic options. We worked with the Town of Wellesley, MA, (see "reduce plastic waste" example at right) to plan a graphic for monthly newsletter content that gives action options based on how much time you can commit.
4. Make actions and information easy to find online. Update your social media pages with at least a few recent, relevant, action-oriented posts, and be sure to schedule one prior to Earth Day to capture interest. Create a graphic or button (see example at left) that can be placed on key, high-traffic pages of your website that grab attention and direct people to climate and sustainability information. Note: a plain text hyperlink buried on a page doesn’t do the trick.
5. Check out our Community Dashboard. It is an easy and affordable platform that checks a lot of these boxes for you. Take a quick video tour of the tool that communities large and small – from San Antonio, TX, to Concord, MA – have used to engage their community and track and share progress on climate and sustainability goals.
The planet doesn't have many chances left. When climate change makes the news headlines or when big events like Earth Day come around, be ready to capture interest and turn it into action.